The Aeolian mode belong to the VI chord!

Also known as the natural minor scale, the Aeolian mode is the most common minor mode.

The best way to approach this scale is to add two notes to the minor pentatonic.

Study the diagram below and make sure you can see the connection between the Aeolian mode and the minor pentatonic scale.

Only two notes have been added, the 2nd and the b6th.

Minor Pentatonic: 1
Aeolian: 2

To learn how to write and improvise with Aeolian you must first learn all five shapes, take them around all keys and finally connect them.

Let’s start with the Em shape.

The Em shaped Aeolian mode

In the Chordacus image, look for the chord shape and minor pentatonic.

A Aeolian Em shape

Play along with the video lesson below. The exercise goes like this:

  1. Chord shape
  2. Minor Pentatonic
  3. add 2
  4. Minor Pentatonic
  5. add b6
  6. Minor pentatonic
  7. Aeolian
  8. Chord

As with all modes, chords, scales and arpeggios you have to play them everywhere on the neck to really learn the shapes. The full cycle of 4th sorts this as you play the Em shaped Aeolian like this:

Am – Dm – Gm – Cm – Fm – Bbm – Ebm – Abm – Dbm – Gbm – Bm – Em.

The Am shaped Aeolian mode

The Am shaped Aeolian mode is almost as common as the Em shape.

Compare the scale to the chord shape and the Am shaped pentatonic shape using the Chordacus image below.

Can you see all intervals when you play it?

A Aeolian, Am shape

The Dm shaped Aeolian mode

Below you find the Aeolian mode in a Dm shape, compare with the dm chord shape and dm shaped minor pentatonic.

A Aeolian, Dm shape

When you can play the shape as demonstrated in the video, take it around the full cycle of 4th.

The Gm shaped Aeolian mode

The Gm shaped Aeolian mode is not that common, but really easy to phrase with!

Compare Chordacus image with matching chord shape and minor pentatonic.

A Aeolian, Gm shape

Can you see the Gm shaped chord? Can you see the minor pentatonic?

You will after you practiced as in the video!

The Cm shaped Aeolian mode!

Start by comparing the Chordacus image to the Cm chord shape and the matching minor pentatonic shape.

Also, make sure you can see the Cm7 chord shape in this scale.

A Aeolian Cm shape

Play along with the video lesson followed by all keys on your own to a click.

Write down your BPM results and you shall soon never have to practice again!

Connect Aeolian scale shapes

This exercise connects all the shapes you’ve just learned.

When you can play it in Am, move on to all other 12 keys. Remember to push the BPM!

By the way, have you tried playing all scales backwards? Start at the highest point and then move down the neck instead?

Any kind of variation on the theme that you can come up with, be it rhythmical or whatever, try it out!

Aeolian through the cycle of 4th

This exercise takes the Aeolian mode and runs it through the cycle of 4th. Instead of going up and down the neck we move to the closest possible shape.

As usual, this exercise should be pushed to a BPM for maximum effect.

The full pattern of the cycle of 4th exercise looks like this:

A Aeolian – Em shape
D Aeolian – Am shape
G Aeolian – Dm shape
C Aeolian – Gm shape
F Aeolian – Cm shape

Then up a semitone from where you started:

Bb Aeolian – Em shape
Eb Aeolian – Am shape
Ab Aeolian – Dm shape
Db Aeolian – Gm shape
Gb Aeolian – Cm shape

Here’s the video lesson demonstrating this.

Aeolian Improvisation

This improvisation in Am use the Aeolian mode.

Make sure you can see the minor pentatonic shapes as well as the added 2nd and b6th.

Also, can you hear the difference between this Aeolian Improvisation and the Dorian Improvisation?


The Aoelian mode is easiest to learn, understand and play with if you built it from a chord shape, into a pentatonic, then to the full mode.

By doing this you’ll know what each interval of the scale feels and sounds like.

First you learn the five shapes, then you connect them up and down the neck, finally you go closest shape possible through the cycle of 4th.

You’ll find out more about when and how to use Aeolian when you take the Advanced Guitar Course.